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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 8 (November 1, 1938)

The Trade Ship

The Trade Ship.

Oh, where are you going you tall, dark schooner,
As you slip through the wash of the summer night?
Oh, I am set for the Southern Islands, Where the meek brown seals sit on the sand,
And sing in voices like plaintive women
A song of a far strange golden land.
I am bound where the drowned sealers Sit on the rocks with their mermaid loves,
And the wild gulls sweep and cry and nestle
To perch on their shoulders like tame white doves.
And where I am going the pale green current
Blinks with the pack-ice from Polar seas,
And the lights of Aurora leap and rustle
Like wind in the flaming poplar trees.
And what do you carry for ballast and cargo,
Tall dark ship of the summer night?
My holds are filled with a trading cargo,
I carry twelve barrels of rum and wine, And good Virginian kegs of tobacco, And silver from out a Mexican mine. And I carry ten rounds of rusty grape-shot,
And pistol and cutlass and swivel-gun. But I cannot defeat the almighty ocean That last night mirrored a bloody sun.
Three days an albatross followed to starboard,
Until in the binnacle lantern wan The steersman saw him close as he hovered, And his face was the face of a man.
And why are your crew so quiet and sober, Your helmsman watching the summer night?
Oh, they watch for storms that will never strike them, And winds that have ripped the sea to tears.
They will never return on their way from the islands, For they have been dead a hundred years.

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